The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) strongly advises event organizers to postpone or cancel large public events if they cannot strictly conduct a risk assessment and make a comprehensive plan for implementing disease prevention measures, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday.
As the Lunar New Year holiday is approaching and many celebrations are being prepared, the CECC must remind people to remain vigilant, said Chen, who heads the center.
“Mass gatherings are usually packed with large crowds for extended periods, and people can easily come into close contact with other people, so there is a high risk of disease transmission,” Chen said. “COVID-19 prevention would become highly difficult if a suspected case or a cluster of infections occurs at one of the events.”
Photo: Tsai Ssu-pei, Taipei Times
To prevent local transmission, the CECC urges event organizers to strictly follow the Guidelines for Large-scale Public Gatherings in the Wake of the COVID-19 Outbreak, which were published by the center last year, and carefully assess the necessity and risks of their events, he said.
If organizers decide to proceed as scheduled, they must make a comprehensive COVID-19 prevention and emergency response plan, and thoroughly implement disease prevention measures, Chen said.
“The CECC strongly advises postponing or canceling large events if organizers cannot strictly conduct a risk evaluation and make a comprehensive plan for implementing disease-prevention measures before the event,” Chen said.
The Executive Yuan announced that it is canceling the Taiwan Lantern Festival, which was scheduled to take place in Hsinchu from Feb. 26 to March 7.
The Cabinet decided to cancel the event as it would have been difficult to register all attendees, because the festival was to be held in an open space, Executive Yuan Secretary-General Li Meng-yen (李孟諺) told a news conference.
Hsinchu Mayor Lin Chih-chien (林智堅) said that the city was worried that it would not be able to thoroughly enforce registration and eating restrictions, adding that companies at the Hsinchu Science Park (新竹科學園區) said they would prefer that the event be canceled.
The Tourism Bureau’s investment of NT$200 million (US$7.02 million) would be lost as a result of the cancelation, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said.
However, he said he hoped that lantern makers would finish their creations so that the ministry could, once the outbreak has subsided, present them for public viewing.
Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) also announced that the Taoyuan Lantern Festival and Lunar New Year’s Greeting events would be canceled, and urged traditional market stalls to stop offering food samples.
Taipei Deputy Mayor Tsai Ping-kun (蔡炳坤) said that the city government would gather information and discuss the COVID-19 situation this morning.
At 10am, it would announce whether the Taipei Lantern Festival and Lunar New Year market on Dihua Street would go ahead, Tsai said.
New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) announced that the city was canceling its lantern festival, and that the annual sky lantern festival in Pingsi District (平溪) would be postponed to a date to be announced later.
The Taipei International Book Exhibition is to be held as planned from Tuesday next week to Jan. Jan. 31 at the Taipei World Trade Center, the organizers said yesterday.
The Taipei Book Fair Foundation said that it has conducted a risk evaluation as required by the CECC and is fully prepared to hold the book fair as scheduled.
Additional reporting by Lee Hsin-fang, Chen Hsin-yu and CNA
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